The Abbey Church, Lenton

The Abbey Church, Lenton

LENTON PRIORY in its prime was a vast and wealthy complexus of buildings, including within its walls not only the Monastic Church and conventional buildings, but a number of other buildings which were used for a variety of religious and charitable purposes.

One such building was a chapel, which was in reality a hospital dedicated to St. Anthony, and set aside for the use of people afflicted with " St. Anthony’s Fire," a disease which we know as erysipelas.

On the destruction of the monastery after the Dissolution in 1537, a new parish church for the village of Lenton was built upon the site of the Chapel of St. Anthony, and the chancel of the present Abbey Church is part of this Tudor building.

This church served the needs of the parish until the consecration of Holy Trinity Church in 1842, when it was abandoned and eventually the nave was pulled down, but the chancel and vestry were preserved to act as a mortuary chapel.

In 1883, however, the nave was rebuilt, and this little church once more came into use.

There are some extremely interesting stones to be found in this ancient church. Over the west door, for instance, are two shields of arms. One displays three crowns, doubtless the sign of St. Ethelred, king and martyr, and the other shows three Fleurs de Lys, the badge of St. Thomas of Hereford. As both these saints were much concerned with the healing of the sick, their badges are very appropriate to a hospital chapel.

Again, to the soul of the west door is a portion of a gravestone showing the shaft of a cross with a chalice on one side and an open book on the other. The chalice indicates a priest, and the open book may indicate a teacher or vicar. The work is of the fourteenth century, but it is now impossible to decide whom the tombstone commemorates.

Inside the church the riser of the altar steps shows carving so closely allied to that on the great font in Holy Trinity Church, Lenton, that there is no doubt that it was wrought in the early 12th century, when Peveril’s Castle at Nottingham was new and when Lenton Priory was but lately established.

It would be hard to find a more charming spot within easy reach of Nottingham than is this little church and its churchyard when the great chestnut trees inside its walls are in bloom, and to this beauty is added the historical interest and the charm of this delightful little building.